Friday, February 23, 2018

The Three Wise Men (and one woman)

There are a ton of personalities in the fitness and sports universe who all purport to have the "best" advice for athletes of all shapes, sizes and pursuits. Some of them are full of nothing but hogwash, or simply trying to sell you something.

Buzzwords: the scourge of trying to find any real sense.

It can be difficult to determine among the cacophony of different voices whom you can trust, but looking for evidence-based writing is a great start. The following four individuals are people who are doing real research into the human body, its limits, and how to extend them.

1. Ross Tucker - Science of Sport

Tucker's writings on his website cover a vast range of topics with the endurance sport world, including everything from analysis of the dominance of African running, through doping and controversies over athlete gender, detailed reports on the Tour de France from 2009-2014 and even athlete management and sponsorship. You can follow him on twitter here.

2. Alex Hutchinson - Sweat Science

Whether it's from his articles in Runner's World, those written for Outside Online, or his new book entitled "Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance", this is probably not the first time you're hearing about this gentleman if you pay any attention to current theories on endurance sport. Nutrition, training methodology, doping, probiotics, world records or athletes' susceptibility to diabetes - no topic is beyond the scope of this former Canadian national team distance runner and physicist. You can follow him on twitter here.

3. Asker Jeukendrup - MySportScience

While some might question the impartiality of a man technically employed by Gatorade, it's difficult to cast aspersions on the quality of research published by this Dutch-born exercise physiologist who has published more than 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and currently holds two professorial positions with the Universities of Birmingham and Loughborough. His findings regarding sports nutrition, carbohydrate intake and metabolism during endurance exercise have had a significant impact on the fueling protocols for elite athletes in recent years, and he holds a special place in my heart at the moment for publishing a paper detailing best practices for healing tendon injuries. You can follow him on twitter here.

4. Stacy Sims - Osmo Nutrition

With multiple postgraduate degrees in exercise physiology and nutritional science, Sims has dedicated herself in recent years to a somewhat daunting pursuit: investigating the unique physiology and nutritional requirements of female endurance athletes. With the tagline "we are not small men", she has endeavored to shed some long-overdue light on the needs and responses of the ever-growing population of women who wish to perform at the highest levels. While she is less than impartial when it comes to the company she founded as a result of her research - Osmo Nutrition - her articles and book "ROAR: How to Match Your Food and Fitness to Your Female Physiology for Optimum Performance, Great Health and A Strong, Lean Body for Life" (co-authored by Selene Yeager) provide incredible insights into female exercise physiology that are invaluable for any woman trying to wring every last drop of performance out of their body and training. You can follow her on twitter here.

So there you have my shortlist of scientists to whom I will listen when they have something to say about endurance sport - people doing real research into how we can become better athletes, whether operating at an elite level or simply trying to live a long, healthy life in sport. I encourage you to read anything that they publish, whether or not it agrees with your current ideas about training, nutrition, or the human body; we can all stand to learn something new, and sport science is still an evolving field.

And in case that was all a little heavy for you, here's a picture of a kitty.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have anyone I should add to this list - it's meant to be a place to start, not completely comprehensive, and I'm happy to add to my own reading!

Especially since I seem to have a lot of time on my hands these days..

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